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Home-opener loss



Published: Tue, April 12, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



By JOE SCALZO

VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF

CLEVELAND -- A couple times during Monday's game, Indians outfielder Coco Crisp watched from the dugout as one of his teammates creamed a ball toward the right field stands, only to see it die in the wind.

"We'd be like, 'Gosh, dang it!' " Crisp said. "Kind of the same thing happened to us. We stood up in the dugout, then the wind knocked us down."

Well, the wind and Freddy Garcia. The White Sox pitcher stymied the Tribe for the second time in a week, surrendering just one run in eight innings as Chicago spoiled Cleveland's sold-out home opener with a 2-1 victory at Jacobs Field.

"When you see a guy two times in one week, you probably should fare a little better," said Indians outfielder Casey Blake, who left the game in the sixth with a hamstring injury. "But [Garcia] didn't really do anything different. We just haven't put two-three-four hits together too many times this year."

Garcia gave up two runs in six innings against the Indians on April 6 as the White Sox rallied for a 4-3 win. Chicago, expected to challenge the Indians and the Twins for the American League Central title, is 3-1 against the Tribe this year.

"Everything is always magnified the first week," said Indians manager Eric Wedge. "Every loss is disappointing, but it's a long season. Certain teams jump out early, but you've got to stand the test of time."

Pitching

Indians starter Kevin Millwood pitched his second straight strong game, giving up two runs in seven innings after pitching six innings of shutout ball in the 4-3 loss to the White Sox last week. He's 0-1 in the two games -- he took the loss Monday -- as the Indians have scored four runs in his two starts.

"It's gonna happen," he said of the lack of run support. "They've got some pretty good pitching over there, but we've got some pretty good pitching, too.

"I'm just trying to give us a chance to win. There wasn't much happening offensively with us today, but I know I at least gave us a chance to win."

History

The Indians have lost their last four home openers against the White Sox, including losses in three of the last five years. Cleveland's last win over Chicago in a home opener came in 1955, when Bob Lemon pitched the Tribe to a 5-1 victory.

"You always want to get an opening day win for the fans, but we want to win all the time," Crisp said. "We didn't hit the ball as well as we wanted to, but I think Garcia pitched a great game."

Garcia, acquired in a midseason trade with Seattle last year, has looked more like the pitcher who was an All-Star with the Mariners in the early part of the decade than the one who went 13-11 last year.

"He kept the ball away from the middle of the plate," Wedge said of Garcia. "He did a good job working both sides of the plate, and he'll drop that slider in for strikes against right-handers and left-handers and the changeup against left-handers.

"He's throwing as well as I've seen him in awhile."

Third-inning chances

Cleveland's best scoring chance against Garcia came in the third, when Ronnie Belliard walked to lead off the inning. Crisp followed with a single to left on a hit and run, but Belliard hesitated at second base before trying for third. Left fielder Scott Podsednik then made a perfect throw to nail Belliard at third.

"He would have made it if he hadn't hesitated," Wedge said.

After Alex Cora struck out swinging, Travis Hafner hit an RBI single to score Crisp to give the Indians a 1-0 lead.

It was the last good chance the Indians had, as Garcia retired the final 14 batters he faced.

"It was a tough game," Blake said. "We're probably going to beat each other up all year."

Indians reliever David Riske pitched two innings of scoreless relief, striking out three. He has not allowed an earned run in 4 1/3 innings this year.

Podsednik had two hits, scored a run and drove in the game-winning run in the sixth inning for Chicago (5-2). Joe Crede added two hits, while Carl Everett had an RBI single in the fifth.

"It's early," Wedge said. "A lot of teams are sort of feeling out each other. But we'll be all right.

"We're gonna play the type of ball that's going to bring people out here. We did that last year as the season wore on, and we're going to do that this year."

scalzo@vindy.com




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